In what must be our most exciting review to date, we put the world’s fastest sedan- the 2019 Tesla Model S P100D- through its paces. While similarities to the Model S 75D that we reviewed last year are undeniable, right down to the choice of colour, the P100D- at $228,375 before on road costs- commands a staggering $97,990 more. For that additional outlay, you get a significantly larger battery pack (100kWh versus 75), much more power: a colossal 580kW and face-melting 1200Nm.
As you’ll read, the performance is like nothing we’ve ever experienced but we also had the opportunity to sample Tesla’s latest Software Version 9.0, which includes improvements to the infotainment system and Autopilot.
2019 Tesla Model S P100D Review: Cabin Space and Comfort
Being a large electric liftback, the P100D offers capacious room for all five occupants. Without the requirement to accommodate a transmission tunnel, the flat floor is most welcome and makes the most of available room. 804L of boot space with the seats up remains unrivalled, let alone the wagon-esque 1645L when they are folded. Bear in mind this is supplemented by the ‘frunk’ at the front, which remains capacious, despite losing some volume to the HEPA air filtration system (aka Bioweapon Defense Mode).
For a vehicle approaching $300,000 on the road, the cabin ambience might be considered a tad austere. Notable omissions include seat cooling and massage function, which at this price, you might rightfully expect. The same could be said of a heads-up display (HUD).
Nevertheless, the power sunroof, polarisation of windows and mirrors and surprising comfort of the lightweight seats were enjoyable aspects to the experience.
2019 Tesla Model S P100D Review: Infotainment and Ergonomics
Tesla’s software received a significant upgrade towards the end of last year, now in its ninth iteration. New features include the ability to sync map inputs from a smartphone app directly to the Tesla navigation system, the ability for passenger to control media and a dash cam that can record the last ten minutes upon command.
Revisions to the climate control bring improved graphics and functionality, but in true Tesla fashion, of course there are some new Easter Eggs. Classic Atari games can be accessed on the touch screen while the Model S is in park. Since our review, other easter eggs have been added, including a fart-generating whoopee cushion. Things like this just highlight the sense of fun and unique philosophy at Tesla.
The simple ergonomics do overall make for distraction-free motoring, but operating things like the climate control still necessitates a glance away from the road. Audio quality is excellent, with thumping bass and reasonably crisp but probably trails the Harman Kardons or Burmeisters of other premium brands, where thousands of painstaking hours are spent optimising sound quality.
2019 Tesla Model S P100D Review: Design
Ostensibly the same car that launched here four years ago, the Model S has become a much more common sight on Austrlaian roads, so maybe lacks the mouth agape wow factor is used to possess. Having said that, it still looks futuristic and sleek with a design language all of its own. The retractable door handles, large turbine-esque wheels and wide stance continue to impress. We did discover some ‘orange peel’ effect in the paint, which again is somewhat disappointing in this price realm.
2019 Tesla Model S P100D Review: Engine and Performance
You’ve no doubt seen videos of passenger reactions on YouTube, but believe us when we tell you that nothing prepares you for visceral thrust of a P100D in Ludicrous Mode. The sudden and devastating power delivery hits you right in the pit of your stomach as you catapult towards the horizon. That something weighing 2241kg can accelerate to 100km/h in 2.7-seconds simply beggars belief. This is something which truly must be experienced to be believed and for those who value a thrilling driving experience, it completely negates any of the aforementioned niggles about HUD or ‘orange peel’. When you remember that only a handful of hypercars can get anywhere near it, its accelerative capabilities make the P100D worth the price of admission alone.
In day-to-day civlised driving, ‘Chill’ and Sport modes make the P100D altogether more placid and tranquil. In these modes, never would you guess the demonic force that is just a tap of the infotainment screen away. Even so, the instant response of power delivery -so absent in modern cars- gives you true confidence and surety when picking lane gaps in traffic.
2019 Tesla Model S P100D Review: Transmission
Although the Model S utilises a reduction gear system rather than a conventional gearbox, there is plenty to be said about the Daimler-sourced selector stalk on the right hand side of the steering wheel, which can be mistaken for an indicator stalk to the uninitiated. Extra care must be taken to ensure the right ‘gear’ is selected, as there is no mechanical feedback. The driver can control variables such as ‘creep’- which emulates the natural forward rolling movement of a conventional automatic car, and regenerative braking, to provide more inertia and put some energy back into the battery pack.
2019 Tesla Model S P100D Review:Handling and Steering
The P100D has a not-inconsiderable 160kg weight penalty compared with the 75D, its centre-of gravity is significantly lower than most sports cars, thanks to the bulk of that weight sitting under the floor, between the wheels. In the steering’s sportiest setting, turn-in becomes more eager with a much shorter ratio, meaning you can adopt a technique of catapulting into corners using the car’s instant torque. The car remains flat, composed and is a far sight more nimble and agile than something of this weight out to be. As with the 75D, brakes remain the weak point.
For the Electric GT racing series, the P100D is been stripped of 500kg, which not only improves the 0-100km/h time to a ridiculous 2.1 seconds, but has obvious improvements for agility and handling. How about a stripped out, Nurburgring-tuned special with colossal, carbon-ceramic brakes, Tesla?
2019 Tesla Model S P100D Review: Ride and NVH
With air suspension at all four corners and a high level of rigidity for the aluminium body, the Model S handles most bumps with reasonable aplomb, but some bumps are maybe accentuated by the low-profile tyres and absence of engine noise. The concentration of weight between the axles means the car is remarkably settled.
2019 Tesla Model S P100D Review: Energy consumption and running costs
Thanks to Tesla’s expanding infrastructure of superchargers, the gap between owning an electric car and a petrol one is shortening in terms of refuelling time. Depending on grid base load, the superchargers we used were adding between 95-200km of range per hour, which meant 45 minutes to an hour from 10 per cent.
The claimed 613 km of range is eminently realistic and achievable in real world conditions. Clever features on the navigation system do their best to ensure that you don’t run out of charge in your Tesla, offering end-of-trip range estimates and keeping you aware of the nearest charging location. Reassuringly, a 240V compatible cord is in the boot for emergencies, but don’t expect it to add much more than 10km of charge per hour, though. Still, the depth of thoughtfulness here makes electric motoring a realistic prospect here and now for many Australians.
2019 Tesla Model S P100D Review: Safety
Much has been said of the Model S’s safety arsenal, with stellar results in almost every safety test thrown at it worldwide. New additions thanks to Software Version 9.0 enhance the car’s active safety credentials, with improved Autopilot functionality.
Extra features now include obstacle aware acceleration, which can restrict full throttle if there is a risk of collision. A highlight is the enhanced visbility of the 360 degree camera system, which now shows different types of vehicles, such as motorcycles and trucks and vehicles in different lanes. It works more smoothly than before and gives you a noticeable layer of extra reassurance.
2019 Tesla Model S P100D Review:Value for Money
There are two sides to this one, but in this writer’s opinion, the P100D represents outstanding value for money on its performance credentials alone, as well as the fact that it remains, at time of writing, in a class of its own. While rivals are scrambling to beat or match the Model S- most notably the Porsche Taycan- we have not seen any indication it will be eclipsed in terms of acceleration. It will be very interesting to see Zuffenhausen’s take on the electric sedan concept, though.
Obvious detractors here are some build quality issues, although it definitely seems like Tesla is on top of that one now – paint finish notwithstanding. Materials and some equipment omissions do grate for a car of this price, but the advancement of its semi-autonomous driving systems puts it back into uncharted territory.
2019 Tesla Model S P100D Review: Conclusion
The P100D’s acceleration is completely unfathomable until you experience it first hand and we struggle to even comprehend what the claimed 1.9 second time of the 2020 Tesla Roadster will do to our bodies. If, for this kind of money, you want handmade bespoke craftsmanship and aren’t into the whole electric car thing yet, we can understand that, but for everyone else, the P100D still seems a decade ahead of anything else you can buy for the money. This car’s sub-violent acceleration makes it a bucket list experience, but as we found out, it is quite joyful to live with on a daily basis as well.